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"Nobel" Obama's Peace and War fog

15:26, March 25, 2011

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By Li Hongmei

How could the US-led Western military coalition brush away Muammar Gaddafi and drop democracy and human rights onto the soil of the embattled Libya from a height of 40,000 feet at the cost of civilians and without getting caught in a prolonged military conflict? How could the ongoing military intervention "bring peace" to a war-torn country? Perhaps, without cutting through the fog of war it's impossible to understand what's really going on in Libya.

The US, France and Britain "fully and successfully" enforced a UN Security Council-approved no-fly zone over Libya by shelling for days on end to stop Gaddafi's forces from attacking rebels in the east.

But many are wondering whether those airstrikes are legal and moral enough to deter a defiant Gaddafi but at the unstoppable cost of civilians and whether international troops are needed to push back Libyan government forces, and what would be the endgame.

Ironically, being a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, while overseeing what is virtually a third war launched by the US and the first one by himself in the last decade, President Obama on Tuesday cut short his visit to Latin America to try and bring clarity to an intervention that has divided the American people and the world.

Obama, under attack from Republicans, foreign policy pundits and even some of his own party men, is making the case that the intervention in Libya is in consonance with US values and interests, and it will be short, with NATO taking over the leadership role. It is needed to save the lives of Libyan people from its leader. "The full implementation" of recent UN Security Council resolutions is "to protect the Libyan people," said the Nobel Peace laureate.

Mindful of the growing disquiet at home about the US role, Obama tried to get across the point to the American people that because of the extraordinary US capabilities, many lives have already been saved in Benghazi, where there was the possibility of Gaddafi's forces carrying out his orders to show no mercy. "That could have resulted in catastrophe. Gaddafi's forces have pulled back because of this timely intervention," he said.

More complicating is a growing chorus of criticism from a number of nations including Turkey, China and India. Also, Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, has called the UN resolution a "medieval call to crusade"; and he recently raised his doubts again questioning whether the ongoing airstrikes are really for protecting civilians, now that the number of casualties has been growing with the intervention running into the fifth day.

Meanwhile, a palpable air of confusion and international infighting dominated the opening days of the Libyan war. On Sunday, Arab League chief Amr Moussa raised eyebrows when he said: "What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not shelling more civilians."

Moussa wasn't the only one calling into question the shock-and-awe style opening of the Libyan war. Turkey criticized the strikes, urging the coalition to avoid civilian casualties and forgo a "comprehensive war" like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Caught in the predicament both at home and abroad, Barack Obama said on Monday that Washington would transfer its leading role on Libya "within days" to ensure the burden of enforcing the no-fly zone was shared. Sure enough, at the request of Washington, NATO agreed late yesterday to take over part of the steering to lead military operations while the U.S. armed forces will keep flying strike and support missions over the North African oil-rich country.

Some critical polls online have even gone so far as to elicit the public opinions by asking "do you think Obama should return the Nobel Peace Prize?" "When I received that award, I specifically said there was an irony because I was already dealing with two wars," Obama told CNN. "So I am accustomed to this contradiction of being both a commander-in-chief but also someone who aspires to peace."

As imagined, the "Nobel" Obama weighs much more of the American interests and its geopolitical strategies in the Arab world than what the peace prize really means. Libyan turmoil is publicly propped up not only by the US-led Western diplomatic devices but also military intervention. The purpose is not as simple as the "regime change", which the U.S. denied, but focuses on isolating Iran, taking up the entire Arab market and further, spreading the political chaos to Russia and China in order to counterbalance the emerging strengths.

Gaddafi is fighting stubbornly, or putting up a desperate struggle. The coalition forces are intensifying their political and military pressures upon the Arab world, forcing the Arab countries to remain neutral while they are shelling Libya.

The Western military intervention finally lays bare their hidden intention of creating a false impression of the "Domino Effect" and "Butterfly Effect" in the concerned region, and also unmasks "Nobel" Obama's ulterior motives.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.


Li HongLi Hong

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

Dai MinJohn
Dai Min

John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min, the executive producers and co-hosts of the Collaboration of Civilizations television series adapted by the eight books they wrote in the America-China Partnership Book Series published in English and Mandarin in 2009-2010 that created the "New School of America-China Relations." They founded the America-China Partnership Foundation and Forum in 2008 and the Center for American-China Partnership in 2005, which was recognized in 2009 as "the first American think tank to combine and integrate American and Chinese perspectives providing a complete answer for America and China's success in the 21st century."